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LONDON — Roland Mouret is moving full throttle: The designer has bought back his trademark from his former investors, and is readying a flagship and new headquarters in Mayfair.
This story first appeared in the September 9, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It took time — but I am really happy. And I am so proud that I continued working — even without my name,” said the designer from his lush, six-story town house at 8 Carlos Place, across from the Connaught hotel. “My advice to young designers is to carry on no matter what — everything is possible.”
Mouret split from his backers, Sharai and Andre Meyers, in October 2005 over differences in strategic direction. Until now, the Meyerses have held 100 percent of Roland Mouret Ltd.
In September 2006, Mouret formed a new company, called 19RM, with the British entertainment impresario Simon Fuller, who propelled the Spice Girls to fame, dreamed up “Pop Idol” and built the David and Victoria Beckham brand. Mouret’s company is a 50-50 venture with Fuller.
“When Simon and I started together, we made a plan. I wanted to get my name back in a natural way, and I didn’t want to get into any legal battles,” Mouret said, adding: “Simon has allowed me to develop a business while ensuring I always had enough space and resources to follow my intuition and establish the company.”
Mouret declined to disclose how much he paid for his name, and said only that it was a fair price. “When you put all of the emotions aside, what we paid was right,” he said, adding that he and Fuller had been in negotiations with the Meyerses since the formation of 19RM.
“What a special time this is for Roland,” said Fuller. “We have acquired the rights for him to use the Roland Mouret trademark, and he is moving into his new flagship building in Mayfair. A perfect start to the new decade.”
The 19th-century Carlos Place town house has served as a bank and an embassy, and is filled with period features such as marble fireplaces and doorways with elaborate neoclassical carvings, molded ceilings, dark wood paneling, stained glass windows and a light-drenched conservatory with Palladian windows.
The town house is to open in February or March, and will house the designer’s first stand-alone store, a showroom, design studio and offices. The two-floor retail space is 3,240 square feet.
The ground floor will stock capsule collections, such as eyewear — Mouret said he’s working on a single “iconic” pair of sunglasses — and cashmere, as well as the future collaborations he plans to undertake with artists and graphic designers. Men’s will also be housed on the ground floor. The first floor will stock women’s wear, while the upper floors will house design and commercial spaces.
“I want this to be like a French fashion house in London,” said Mouret during a recent walk-through. “And I plan to be here, walking the floor, talking to my customers. And I want it to feel like a home.”
Earlier this month, Mouret and his team began moving the commercial and design operations into the town house. For three years, the team has been working from a former schoolhouse near London Bridge.
Mouret said he plans to fill the shop with a mix of Seventies and early-Eighties French furniture and with 18th-century pieces.
The designer said the Carlos Place flagship is a new chapter for his business, and stores in other cities are in the pipeline. He shows his collections in Paris, and said he plans to continue doing so.
“Things will be moving rapidly from now on. We are in expansion mode, and we’ve started to analyze other markets with an eye to opening stand-alone retail stores. We want each one — just like this town house — to reflect the personality of the neighborhood,” he said.
Mouret added that his and Fuller’s guiding philosophy remains a simple one: “We are constantly asking the question, ‘What does it mean to be a young, 21st-century brand?’”